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July 22, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Unemployed? You still need a business card

Over this last surprisingly cool and wet weekend, I turned my attention to my home office, which had been neglected during our two-week-long July heat wave. As I cleared away the clutter, I noticed several half-empty boxes of my old business cards scattered about. I felt like an archaeologist discovering a species of worker, tracking its evolution by noting subtle changes in long-forgotten job titles.

Like many job seekers in post-recession Seattle, I’ve had many new business cards but few chances to use them. As soon a fresh box of cards would arrive, an employer would reorganize or a division would close, sending me back to the networking trenches with hundreds of now-useless cards to gather dust.

During times of unemployment, I always felt at a disadvantage at networking events if I took someone’s card and had nothing to give back in return. But just because a job seeker is unemployed doesn’t mean that person should be without a card.

These days, options abound for ordering customized cards. They include standard free templates from Vistaprint; colorful graphics and adjustable sizes at Moo; and cards with an eco-friendly vibe at Jukebox. To make sure job seekers stay on message, here are a few ground rules about what to include on your cards:

Sum up your brand. Below your name, in the space where an official title might be, add a three- or four-word description about what you do, such as “Sales and Marketing Expert” or “Project Management Specialist.” Some have chosen more whimsical descriptions, like “Web Design Guru,” but try to keep it professional. You don’t want to blow your chance by coming across as being flippant.

Use only professional contact information. Hiring managers only care about your phone number and email address, so don’t bother with your home address. Try not to use your home phone number, either; use a cell or a business line, if applicable. Also, direct them to places where they can find out more about you, such as your website, blog, Twitter feed and/or LinkedIn portfolio.

Include a memorable visual element. Include some brief information about you that will stick in the hiring manager’s mind. You don’t want to cram in a whole resume, but you can print a short tagline about your career or perhaps a few bullet points about your skills. You may also include a photo of yourself to help jog their memory, but don’t go overboard with shiny inks and multiple images. Simplicity is key.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: branding, communication, networking, self-promotion

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Blog contributors

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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